Building the Amazon Appstore UX Team
My Management Philosophy
I very much believe that individuals find the most fulfillment through 1) delivering projects via a high level of autonomy, 2) working on problems that truly challenge them, while 3) understanding the steps needed to get to the next level in their career.
Building the Team After designing and delivering Fire Phone and three generations of Fire Tablet, I felt the need to organize a centralized UX team for Appstore for our 1P products. This came from a desire to share my knowledge and love for design through mentoring others and helping them grow as designers. With my manager's support he and I laid out a plan to build and manage the new team. As I completed the required trainings, one by one I met with the other designers on the team to discuss this transition, their concerns, and what they wanted to achieve. I knew that I needed their trust. They needed to KNOW and FEEL that I really cared about them and their progress, and that I would support them and help them. I quickly found that I greatly enjoyed helping others grow and learn by providing guidance on the projects/problems they were working on/dealing with. My team owned design for Appstore on FireTV and Fire Tablet, as well as cross product initiatives, such as GameCircle, IAP, Retail Web, Underground, and the first versions of the Alexa Skill Store on Retail Web.
Opening New Roles Soon after that I saw a great need to have a dedicated prototyper who would help deliver hi-fidelity prototypes to help us sell the vision of FOS5 and other projects. I realized that this was an established role on other teams in Seattle. These individuals were known as Design Technologists. So I fought for the creation of the Design Technologist Role at Appstore and was able to get not one but two Design Techs added to our UX team. This was an extremely important role, it helped us validate and sell ideas much faster that it normally would have. They also served as a fantastic bridge between dev and UX.
Mentoring While managing the team I was also actively mentoring a QA Dev. During that time he had been taking classes and already had a great eye for design and gathering data to validate his design decisions. Over 6 months he progressed to the point where I was ready to give him a small UX project and had one of my teammates serve as a shadow to help him when needed it. 2 months later he would be hired on as Appstore's first Junior UX Designer.
Growth Within a year I had grown this centralized UX team from 2 UX designers to 4 UX Designers, 2 Design Techs, and had an open role for UX Researcher. While managing this amazing team, I experienced enormous growth as I navigated the, many times, stressful and murky waters of personnel management. It taught me to recognize my team’s, and my own strengths and weaknesses. I worked continuously on improving my team's processes and did my best to fill in the gaps where needed. I strongly encouraged and fostered cross-collaborate amongst their design peers on the team and outside the team and did my best to place them on projects where they could both learn and grow as designers.
Afterward, I continued on to Manage the UX Insights team for Appstore (2016-2017), and then the UX team on Alexa Gadgets (2017-2018).
CompanyAmazon Year 2015 - 2016